[Author’s Note: This is Part Three of a three part series that takes a deep dive into the current economic situation we find ourselves in in this country and what we can do to prepare for what’s ahead. Even if you slept through economics in high school, you should still get some actionable info out of this series. At the very least you’ll hear a different perspective from the talking heads on TV and social media!]
Weathering the Storm
This will be the conclusion of our three part series and the “how-to” portion. This is not a prepping article - there are plenty of those out there, but there is an aspect of personal preparation to what I’ll cover, just from a different angle, so let’s call this “economic prepping”. This section will focus on strategies to help you get through the coming dollar devaluation, high interest rates, and stagflation that I (and many others) predict we’ll see in the months and years ahead.
Hyper-Inflation throughout history:
It seems like people have been predicting a dollar collapse (hyper-inflation) since the 1970s - most likely from the day that Nixon tossed out the gold standard. To be fair, that was the beginning of the end for the dollar. Once a currency is no longer based on something tangible like gold or silver, it is just a matter of time before it is printed into oblivion and collapses.
Currency collapse has happened time and time again throughout history - just not in the US, yet. Unfortunately for us, we find ourselves at that point in American history. The likelihood of a dollar collapse has recently accelerated with our exponential spending growth and persistent “quantitative easing” - the modern version of running the printing press 24/7.
On my bookshelf I have a clear plaque inset with a 100 Million Dollar bank note issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Inset next to it is a 1 ounce silver coin with the quote from Voltaire: “At the end, fiat money returns to its inner value - zero.” This reminds me that even though we live in the United States, our fiat currency is actually backed by nothing.
So let’s dispense with the “it can’t happen here mentality” because it can, and in all likelihood, will… soon.
There are many examples of inflation and hyper-inflation throughout history. Zimbabwe had hyper-inflation (defined as 50% or greater inflation each MONTH) as recently as 2006-08. CATO published a list of 56 different instances of hyper-inflation since 1795. On this list 87% of them occurred AFTER WW2, with many of them occurring in the 1990’s. In each of these situations, it took only a matter of days for prices to double.
So now what can we do about it?
On a national and state level we should be electing fiscally responsible representatives. We have a bunch of clowns in DC right now (and have for decades) that are happy to spend money we don’t have on stuff that doesn’t matter. There, I said it. I personally believe this is a lost cause, but anything is worth a try.
Now with that said, we are all responsible for ourselves, our family and our community. So what can we do about it on a personal level? That is what we’re here to discuss.
Again, I want to reiterate that this isn’t going to be a “surviving the collapse of the world” type of article. First of all, as you can see from the CATO list that I linked to, 99% of the countries that went through hyper-inflation are still around. They just had to get through a rough patch of a few years until the boat was righted again.
The goal here will be to ride out a few years where interest rates are skyrocketing and the value of your currency is dropping weekly or even daily. Life will still go on, it will just look different from today and the more you can think ahead, and take action, the better off you’ll be.
Let’s get into it in order of importance:
Invest in your ability to produce income.
It doesn’t matter if you are paid in dollars, silver, wampum, or potatoes, if you provide a service or product that people want, you will get compensated. People have been “making a living” since the dawn of time. They were blacksmiths, tutors, fishermen, mechanics and artists. It doesn’t matter what the skill is as long as it is in demand and people can pay you for it, somehow.
This goes for everyone, but is especially true if you have a “white collar” type corporate or government job today. Your first step is to start learning a new skill, start a side business, and invest in your ability to produce something of value. That means getting the knowledge and the tools you need now while they are relatively cheap. The more you delay, the more prices will increase and so getting the skills and equipment you want will be more costly.
Now is the time to build up that second source of income before you need to rely on it. Ideally you should look for skills or business ventures that deal with physical products that might be in high demand when times get tough: auto mechanics, handyman services, home tutoring are some that come to mind. The world is your oyster, just start doing something today so it is set up when you need it.
An offshoot of getting skills for income, is getting skills for personal development in an uncertain world. Training in firearms is high on that list along with medical training. You might even double up and take an EMT course so you have both a marketable skill and the training to assist in an emergency. Welding, animal husbandry, archery, trapping, sewing are just some that come to mind. How about this: get your motorcycle license and a motorcycle as a way to save money on gas? I did this last year in fact.
On another personal note, I’m working on my pilots license because that is something I’ve always wanted to do. Here is one example of the cost of everything going up: When I started researching the cost to get my private pilot’s license a few years ago, estimates ranged from $5000 to $7000. Today it will likely cost closer to $12-15,000. In the future, to acquire that skill will cost even more, but once I have sunk the money into the initial training it doesn’t matter what the price goes to because I have the knowledge now.
Look at your personal debts.
The next area to focus on is personal debt. I’m not one of those people that believe all personal debt is bad. In fact, in an inflationary environment debtors actually benefit - which is exactly why the biggest debtor, the US Government, is working so hard to inflate the value of the currency. You borrow at one level and pay it back with increasingly inflated dollars. As long as the interest rate is low, you come out ahead.
But you have to be careful here. If interest rates start going up then all unsecured debt payments will increase. Credit cards are the killer here. If your rate is 23.9% APR today it might go to 50% in the future. Get that stuff paid off. If you can’t pay it off, at least switch into a fixed rate personal loan so you are protected from rising interest rates. If you have a mortgage with a low fixed interest rate and a car with a low fixed interest rate then you are protected from interest rate changes.
My personal view on debt is that you shouldn’t struggle to pay it every month - if you do then you need to either increase your income, for example through a side business, or sell off some stuff tied to the debt. If times get tough you can sell your car to get out of the loan. That goes for any loan that is secured with something: house, car, boat, motorcycle, etc., but you can’t do that with unsecured loans, so get those paid off as quickly as you can. When we have a recession and price levels are rising, you will be thankful you have room in your budget to help make ends meet.
Tangible Things = Store of Value
Once you have invested in your ability to produce income and paid down your debt to a level that is comfortable for you, next it is time to look at places to put your money that act as a “store of value”. As I’ve already shown in Parts 1 and 2, now is not the time to put your money in bonds, stocks, housing or crypto - they are not a store of value at today’s elevated levels. Even a plain ‘ol savings account at your bank is not a store of value when real inflation rates are 15% and interest rates are 1% - you might as well put money under your mattress for all it’s doing for you.
Instead, now is the time to look at real things, things that will not lose value when the dollar collapses and interest rates spike.
Prioritize things that will help you provide for your family and reduce your dependency on outside products and services in day-to-day life, and therefore, help you make or save money.
Most people, including myself, can’t afford or even justify (because we have jobs and businesses to run) a fully stocked off grid survival retreat with its own water, power, and food resources. However, we can take baby steps in that direction while also stocking up stuff that I can use for currency one day to buy the stuff I need.
This could end up being a really long list of things so I’ll just hit some examples and you can use them as a jumping off point for your unique situation:
Energy / Heat Production:
- Wood burning stove + stacked firewood + chainsaw for new wood
- Generator (Gasoline, Diesel, Propane, or Natural Gas)
- Solar Panels
- Solar Water Heater
- Have a well installed (if possible)
- Rainwater collection system
- Water Purification (we have a Berkey for example)
- Water storage tank (below ground or above ground)
- Start a garden!
- Raise chickens
- Buy a smoker, food dehydrator, and/or freeze dryer to preserve food
- Start canning
- Buy ½ a cow
- Add a 2nd or 3rd Freezer
- Start hunting wild game
- Take up fishing
- Don’t forget to stock up on pet food
Tangible Things to help you do stuff:
- Tools and equipment (winch, trailer, welder, air compressor, etc)
- Manual kitchen implements (hand mixer for example)
- Older simple to fix car, truck, or jeep
- Firearms, magazines, spare parts, and optics
- Ammunition (you can never have too many guns or too much ammunition!)
- Steel targets for practice
- Fitness Equipment (dumbells, punching bag, treadmill, etc)
- Reloading setup and supplies
- Body armor, plate carriers, medical supplies, coms, etc
Tangible things you’ll use in the future (and don’t go bad):
This is a general list, but you can stock up on some things as you find them today and “lock in” today’s price by buying a few extra for the future. How long you can use it and how much you should buy depends on the product and your storage space.
Here are some examples:
- Building supplies (wood, nails, screws, hinges, roofing material, etc)
- Screw bits, sawsall blades, paint brushes, etc
- Paper and paper products (kleenex, toilet paper, etc)
- Chemicals you use every year that don’t go bad (bug spray, fertilizer, etc)
- Razors or hair care products
- Clothing (including underwear, socks, gloves, shoes, etc)
Tangible things you can barter or trade:
- Silver coins and bar silver, even 90% “junk” silver will have value
- Gold coins in ¼ oz and up
- Ammunition - everyone can use ammunition and it doesn’t go bad if stored properly. For barter purposes focus on common calibers (22LR, 9mm, 223/556, 308, 12ga)
- Anything you don’t need that someone else does (You can even get practice today by going online to sites like Craigslist. In Idaho we have zidaho.com which has a popular gun section. You can also start visiting swap meets and gun shows to practice your haggling skills).
So as you can see, there are lots of places to park your cash that won’t put it at risk for an asset bubble collapse. You just need to look at your situation and do what makes sense for you and your family - everyone’s situation is different.
I will say one more thing that goes against conventional wisdom: You need to get your money out of the system and into tangible things as soon as you can. When a dollar and/or asset bubble collapse happens, it will be fast. We are already witnessing a stock market decline into “bear market” territory, crypto has dropped 50% or more from its highs, and there are rumblings about the housing market softening with a crash ahead as interest rates go up.
If you are reading this blog then you are already unconventional: AmmoSquared is an unconventional company started by unconventional thinkers and our customers see things differently as well, so you are in good company. ;)
Don’t let anyone hold you back. Don’t let conventional wisdom hold you back. People will think you are crazy and that’s okay. Time is not on our side. You will need to take drastic measures today to set yourself up to weather the coming economic storm. This includes working nights and weekends on your side business, cashing out your 401k (or taking a loan from it), selling your new car and buying an old truck or taking out home equity to pay off unsecured debt. Whatever you feel you need to do to protect yourself from rising inflation and rising interest rates. We are in the largest asset bubble we’ve ever seen and the signs are there for everyone to see. It is up to you to take action.
The people that will thrive in this environment over the next few years are the unconventional thinkers.
PS: This has been a massive writing effort for me. It is something I felt I needed to put out there as a public service and to get my thoughts in order for myself. With that said, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this series: do you agree? Do you think I’m off base? Did I miss something important that you think should have been included? Comment below!
Also, if you feel this information was valuable, please share with the people you think will want to weather the coming storm… everyone else can keep their head in the sand!